Mark Lawson Radio Plays

Mark Lawson is a familiar name to radio 4 listeners as the former presenter of the weekday Arts programme 'Front Row'. He has also written some interesting radio plays, including "The Number of the Dead" for "The Wire" on Radio 3, which gave a fascinating picture of what happens on a big-news day in the studio in programmes like "The World at One".


The classic serial GRAIN OF TRUTH by Zygmunt Miloszewski (R4, beginning 1 May 22; 2 episodes), dramatised by Mark Lawson was a crime thriller set in Communist Poland. State Prosecutor Szacki finds himself trapped in a land of half-truths and secrets. Small-town Poland is a little dull but an unusual murder case gets him back into action. The crime scene is littered with grotesque clues. Szacki was played by Bryan Dick, with Rachel Austin, David Fleeshman and Claire Benedict.The producer was Polly Thomas and sound design was by Eloise Whitmore, from indie producer Naked Productions.

JABBER JABBER, by Mark Lawson (R4, 1415, 14 Mar 22) was a play looking into the Covid vaccine rollout from the point of view of those who wanted it and those who didn't. Mark Lawson says that he has had two jabs, a booster, and a mild dose of Covid. But after seeing news reports that 90% of British adult population had received the first jab, he was interested by the 10% (about five million people) who refused it. A tenth of the NHS workforce also declined it, even under the threat of dismissal; a threat which was hastily withdrawn when it was realised that the NHS would collapse if a large number of its workers were suddenly forced to leave. The play was a thought - provoking listen going far deeper than the polarised discussions normally encountered on the national media and it highlighted many real concerns about what has been going on over the last two years. There was an excellent cast: Nimmy March, Nicholas Murchie, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Jane Slavin, Clive Hayward and Tom Glenister. The producer was Eoin O’Callaghan, for Big Fish Productions.

15 Jun 21: Baselines
By Mark Lawson. A play about gender identity and the way it is disrupting women's professional sports. A difficult job for the governing bodies. Sportswomen feel they are being discriminated against when former men now regarded as female after 'transitioning' are allowed to compete against normal women - those who were born female. How are governing bodies in sport going to legislate to ensure fairness? Peter/PJ Reany.....Rosie Sheehy, Sheila Reany....Haydn Gwynne, David Harvey-Lane.....Dermot Crowley, Rachel Du Prez.....Kerry Fox, Andy Terrister.....Tom Glenister, Kevin Hunter/Umpire/Sports Presenter.....Adrian Decosta, Letitia Ingrams/Commentator/Testing Woman.…….Marième Diouf. Directed by Eoin O'Callaghan Indie (Big Fish).

8 May 21: Saturday Play - Politics, Philosophy and Economics

By Mark Lawson. February 2020 a new sales drive is being planned at Union Jax, a company run by young entrepreneurs Stuart and Jacqueline. Orders and profits are soaring, but they are concerned about the likely effect of Covid lockdown, if it happens. Then the PPE (personal protective equipment) shortage happens. Eugene ..... Alex Jennings, Jacqueline ..... Macy Nyman, Stuart ..... Tom Glenister, Hannah ..... Jane Slavin, Producer: Eoin O’Callaghan Indie (Big Fish).

27 Nov 20: Blame
By Mark Lawson. Lady Radebe, a retired member of the Supreme Court, is appointed by HM Government to head a public inquiry. She plans to operate the approach employed by Lord Justice Taylor’s 1989 first inquiry into football stadium safety after the Hillsborough disaster earlier that year. Taylor insisted on a rapid “interim report”, making recommendations for stadium safety; these were made and quickly implemented, and the inquiry moved on to allocate blame. This model has never been applied to any subsequent inquiry; governments and institutions prefer inquiries to be extremely slow so that fault and responsibility can be forgotten. Lady Radebe doesn't agree. Lady Grace Radebe ..... Cecilia Noble, Clerk to the Inquiry ..... Nickolas Grace, Witness 1 ..... Haydn Gwynne, Witness 2 ..... Tom Glenister, Witness 3 ..... Jane Slavin, Witness 4 ..... Philip Jackson. Producer: Eoin O'Callaghan. Production Co-ordinator: Sarah Tombling. Sound Engineer: Wilfredo Acosta. Sound Editor: Joe Bedell-Brill. Indie (Big Fish).

21 Jun 2019: Base Lines
By Mark Lawson. A play about transgender individuals. Do men who have transitioned (been surgically altered) to become women have an unfair advantage if they take part in women's athletics? Secondly, are surgical and hormonal alternations sufficient for a person to become a member of the opposite sex? Peter / PJReaney: Rosie Sheehy, Sheila Reaney: Haydn Gwynne, David Harvey-Lane: Dermot Crowley, Rachel du Prez: Kerry Fox, Andy: Tom Glenister, with Adrian Decosta and Marieme Diouf. Producer: Eoin O'Callaghan.

21 Dec 2018: The Moon That Night
By Mark Lawson. On Christmas Eve, a family of four arrives at their country cottage, a second home, where they intend to spend Christmas. But on arriving, they find the lights are on and that a single mother and her child have moved in after being unable to pay the rent on their flat. Is the family prepared to share the house and their hospitality? There's a lovely illustration of a teenage 'snowflake' girl in this play. Anthony: Tim McInnerney, Emily: Juliet Aubrey, Ruby: Macy Nyman, Rufus: Tom Glenister, Rev. Julie: Amaka Okafor, Tess: Jenny Sparks. Producer: Eoin O'Callaghan.

13 Apr 18: The Deletion Committee
By Mark Lawson. Play about social media and its growing influence. Following pressure from activists on social media, the trustees of a waxworks feel obliged to establish a dekletion committee to remove the figures of celebrities who have been named and shamed on Facebook and the like. But when they start to target popular figures like Germaine Greer, the committee begins to question the process. Paul Freeman, Bill Paterson, Samantha Bond, Weruche Opia and Abram Rooney; producer Eoin O'Callaghan. Rpt. 26 May 20.

By Mark Lawson. 21 Apr 2016. In the Vatican in the near future, 120 cardinals gather in the Sistene chapel to elect a new pontiff. For the first time since 1159, he might be English. Cardinal Faber: Nick Dunning, Cardinal Simouri: Jude Akuwudike, Rachel grealish: Lisa-Ann MaLaughlin, Matrtha Keen: Scarlett Brookes, Tom Graham: Patrick FitzSymons, Cardinal O'Callaghan: Pat Laffan, Padro Antenucci: Faolan Morgan. Producer: Eoin O'Callaghan.

    Mark Lawson's new play, HOLY FATHER (R4, 1415, 21 Apr 16) was set in the Vatican in the near future. 120 cardinals are electing a new Pope. But there is a problem; the front-runner for the position has done something in the past, before he was a priest, which probably makes him ineligible for the job. Mark Lawson has devised an excellent plot; he has a crisp turn of phrase, and the dialogue sparkled. Cardinal Faber was played by Nick Dunning and Cardinal Simouri by Jude Akuwudike; Eoin O'Callaghan was the producer.
    (......ND, Diversity website review, Apr 2016)

1 Mar 2016 One to One - Mark Lawson talks to Hannah Witton
Mark Lawson has a problem. He is writing a memoir but he's always had the habit, when writing or broadcasting, of avoiding using the term "I". This rather puts him at odds with modern culture, where journalists and presenters are urged to say it. In this series, Mark discusses self-revelation with artists who have written about themselves. Hannah Witton, a history graduate and blogger, talks to Mark about making her life, her views and her beliefs available for public consumption on the net. Producer: Lucy Lunt.

11 Oct 2015 Entanglement,The Reflection Room
Polish crime thriller by Zygmunt Miloszewski, dram. Mark Lawson. A State Prosecutor finds himself trapped in a post-Communist limbo land of half-truths and secrets. Will he prove himself to be a redoubtable seeker of the truth or will he compromise? A murder reveals glimpses of links to the old regime. Part 1: The Reflection Room: When Henryk Telak is found murdered during a Family Constellation Therapy weekend, State Prosecutor Szacki and his police colleague Olga have to work together to deduce who killed the man and why. An apparent absence of motive is compounded when attractive young news reporter Monika Grezlka, shows a more than professional interest in Szacki. Teodor Szacki................Bryan Dick, Olga Kuzniecow.............Christine Bottomley, Cezary Rudzki................David Crellin, Monika Grzelka/ Hanna Kwiatowska........Rachel Austin, Barbara Jarczyk/ radio news reader.........Alexandra Mathie, Euzebius Kaim...............Dermot Daly, Henryk Telak/ Father Pazcek...............Glenn Cunningham. Translated by Antonia Lloyd Jones. Warsaw backgrounds: Zofia Morus, Polish language advisor: Richard Abel, Sound design: Eloise Whitmore, Producer/director: Polly Thomas, Executive Producer: Joby Waldman. Indie; Somethin' Else Productions.

    2015-10-18 Entanglement, Part 2: Antigone in Warsaw.
    Szacki has feelings for attractive journalist Monika Grzelka. The murder victim's background is complicated. The final clues fall into place when he stages his own Family Constellation Therapy session with all the suspects. Cast and production - see above.

12 Oct 2011.....a cleverly written play about a reclusive artist. A young art historian seems to understand the hidden meanings in his work, and she shares these insights in her teaching. But the art establishment doesn't agree with her, and during one lecture she meets a stubborn individual who repeatedly says that she's wrong. It has serious consequences for both of them, and the plot had a great twist at the end.

Emmie, the young lecturer, was played by Hattie Morahan; Joss Ackland took the other lead, and Mark Lawson, of 'Front Row' fame, played himself. The producer was Eoin O'Callaghan. ND, vrpcc review, Dec 2011

    BBC blurb:
    In an intriguing murder mystery in the art world, Mark Lawson pursues a theme which for him holds particular fascination; the desire of the artist to remain illusive and anonymous behind work which is heavily codified and seemingly impenetrable. When a brilliant young art historian flies in the face of the received wisdom regarding the work of the reclusive Anderson Perrine, the artist feels a distinct invasion of his privacy. He sets about laying a series of false trails but her pursuit of him is unrelenting and he is obliged to take radically evasive action. Emmie Callaghan ....... Hattie Morahan, Anderson Perrine ....... Joss Ackland, Professor Black's commentary ....... Miche Doherty, Radio Arts Presenter ....... Mark Lawson, Gallery Announcer ....... Robin Read, Visitor to the Gallery ....... Aine McCartney, Visitor to the Gallery ....... BJ Hogg, Visitor to the Gallery ....... Mark Lambert. Producer ....... Eoin O'Callaghan.

21 Dec 10. Afternoon Play. Details to follow when I have them.

WHAT DID I SAY?....2009
30 12 2009. When Max Coleman is suspended from work for an allegedly offensive remark; he just can't figure out what on earth he might have said. Which is very odd; I thought that in England we had freedom of speech. Max Coleman ...... Neil Pearson, Juliet Coleman ...... Amy, Marston Chubbs ...... Piers, Wehner Tom Neades ...... Chris McHallem, Susan Brogan ...... Aine McCartney, Alice Irvine ...... Tessa Nicholson. Producer Eoin O'Callaghan.

9-13 Feb, Woman's Hour serial. Mystery centred on a reading group. A well known writer leaves clues in his final novel that his recently deceased wife was murdered. A policewoman member of the group has to analyse the incriminating text. Mark Lawson appears as himself; so does Melvyn Bragg. Cast: Lia Williams, Mark Lambert, Hugh Ross, Chris Pavlo, Donnla Hughes, Jill Cardo, Richard Howard, Nickolas Grace, Mark Lawson, Melvyn Bragg. Producer Eoin O'Callaghan.

Sat 31 Jan, "The Wire", 60m, R3. Drama about a broadcaster on a major news network who has to face a crisis on-air. I thought this Mark lawson's best radio play so far. Gillian Reynolds wrote of it, in the Daily Telegraph: ..............it took place in a radio studio, was about the news and what lies behind it. It had the convincing ring of close observation, brimming with gossipy detail.

Tim Freeman, played by Tim McInnerney, presents a three-hour midday news magazine. He's an old hand; his yound female sidekick is making her debut. It's an ordinary day: an interview with a minister in a radio car, listeners 'phoning in and texting opinions, traffic and travel, headlines, sport.........an unexpected story breaks: some young men are holding hostages in a city bank. Shots have been heard.

We hear the producer react, and Tim's inner dialogue; Tim on-air; Tim off-air in the studio. Eoin O'Callaghan did this script proud. (For those who haven't yet heard the play I've only quoted a small part of Gillian's review, and taken out 'spoilers' - ND)

Cast details: Tim McInnerney, Lia Williams, Amy Marston, Inam Mirza, John McAndrew, Pamela Miles, Paul Panting, Michael Elwyn. Producer Eoin O'Callaghan.

......by Mark Lawson, (R4, 1415, 26 Mar 07) was a rather unsettling play about the power of the internet. A man is giving a lecture about what happened to his son and daughter, after his daughter was unknowingly photographed performing a sexual act at a party. The photo ends up on a website, Dad's job is affected, and the situation escalates as the picture is duplicated and circulated around the world. And in spite of the consequences, including the breakup of a family, no-one had done anything illegal. It was a reminder about what can happen if the wrong material gets onto the web or, for that matter, into an email. More than one employee has lost his job by making online comments about his boss. Alex Jennings, Haydn Gwynne and Lynne Seymour starred, and the director was Eoin O'Callahagn. .......ND, VRPCC newsletter, Apr 07.

The play was shortlisted for a radio award - I think a Sony Award - for 2007, along with Charles Wood – Conspiracy at Sevres and Steve Gooch - McNaughton. This last play was the eventual winner.

The Third Soldier Holds His Thighs....2005
18 Feb 05; Friday play by Mark Lawson. Eleanor Bron /Ewan Bailey /Simon Callow /Jon Glover /Ron Cook /Geoffrey Whitehead /Greg Hicks /Peter Wickham /Peter Spruce /Daniel Evans /Mark Straker.

The Man Who Had 10,000 Women....2003
26 Nov 03. By Mark Lawson . On the day of the death of the novelist George Simenon, creator of the Inspector Maigret series, a Parisian detective with a slightly familiar name is asked to investigate the mysteries, sexual and political, in Simenon's life.

(R4 1415 7 Mar 03), a literary comedy, was Mark Lawson's second radio play. The Vatican decides to stop the slide of literature towards the base and obscene by canonising either Evelyn Waugh or Graham Greene. Priests explore the two writers' characters, and their very different attitudes to almost everything emerge. John Sessions was Waugh, Simon Day was Greene and Peter Wickham and Daniel Evans were the clerics; the director was Robyn Read. ....ND, VRPCC newsletter, Apr 03.

(Mark Lawson as presenter)..................There have been other worthwhile things on radio recently: John Hegley acting the fool in a short series of plays loosely concerned with biking around the country on a camping holiday; a series presented by Mark Lawson on Northern comics; and yet another series of I.S.I.H.A.C, with an outstanding show, the best I've heard, with guest Heinz Wolf and broadcast on R4, 1830, 6 Dec. ....ND, VRPCC newsletter, Dec 1997.

compiled by Nigel Deacon / Diversity website

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